• Cotolo’s Harness Review, News And Notes

    POSTED Dec 9, 2012
    The Friday and Saturday features were close but not moneymakers.  

    At Northlands we couldn’t defeat the Filly Pace favorite, a 25-cent-on-the-dollar favorite. Our 9-1 choice, Prairie Illusion, was second, igniting a paltry $8.50 exacta. The next day, the Western Pacing Derby delivered a longshot, as we thought it could, but it was not our 19-1 shot, it was an 18-1 shot we never mentioned. Our choice finished eighth.  

    In Northfield’s Cleveland Classic, we were once again thwarted by our wagering nemesis, Bolt The Duer. The soph colt won the Adios Pace over the summer and the public began to wager him down to unfair odds—in our humble opinion. Since winning the Adios, which was a gift from A Rocknroll Dance’s record-breaking three-quarters, “Bolt” has never been an overlay. He won this event at 4-1.  

    The most notable element of the race was the pitiful performance of the aforementioned A Rocknroll Dance. He finished sixth, never making a move to be in better position, proving that he has never recovered from the throat surgery that ruined what could’ve been an historic season to equal his bloodline.  

    Our hits, again this weekend, came from the lower ranks, those delicious overnight overlays from various North American tracks.  


    In our official second week of H2W action, we scored with more winners from high to low prices. Here they are from the highest paying to the lowest paying winners (note that some are horses that were listed for the second time, having lost the first time on the list, further supporting our process of giving each H2W horse a second chance to score): 

    $19.20, Dangerismybusiness, Saratoga
    $11.80, Vantage, Cal Expo
    $7.90, Mach Maiden Heaven, Fraser
    $4.90, Warrawee Nimby, Batavia
    $3.20, Dreaming Of Amy, Cal Expo
    Here are the horses that finished second and third that will return to the H2W list next week and how they finished, along with their post-time odds. Special notes on their affects in those positions follow.  

    JJ Regard (5-1), Saratoga; Virtual Escape (6-1), Lebanon; Lil Kent (3-1), Nola (Fraser; Alotta Crackers (4-1), Fraser; Nola B (4-5), Lebanon; I’m The Reason (47-1), Cal Expo. 

    I’m The Reason was beaten by the race favorite, igniting a $53.40 exacta. I’m The Reason paid $27.20 to place and more than $9 to show.  

    Succulent (18-1), Northlands; Flak Jacket (3-1), Northlands; Giles LS Hanover (7-1), Cal Expo; Cinnamon (4-1), Cal Expo; Tangram (6-1), Cal Expo.

    All adjustments for returnees to the list and additions will be in the Thursday blog. 

    News And Notes

    The Illinois Harness Horseman’s Association (OHHA) began to broadcast between-race interviews, which they hope will “revolutionize the way fans handicap and understand harness racing in Chicago.” It started at Maywood Park recently with post-race interviewing of drivers and trainers.

    The IHHA board decided the feature could help fans understand why drivers make certain decisions in races and to explain extraordinary circumstances.

    “If a horse is the favorite to win a race and he races terribly and finishes last, I think fans want to know what’s going on,” said David McCaffrey, IHHA president. “It could be something as simple as a piece of paper on the track that spooks a horse and causes him to break stride or a knee boot that comes loose and impedes the horse’s gait. Either way, the fans deserve an explanation.”

    By giving a podium to horsemen, the IHHA hopes the public will become more engaged and use interviews’ information when they handicap. The board also hopes that the interviews will bring more transparency to the sport. To that end, fans will eventually be able to submit questions via Facebook and Twitter.

    “There are a lot of factors on the track,” said IHHA board member and driver Marcus Miller. “A driver might get boxed in or there could be an equipment malfunction. Drivers make mistakes sometimes too. But the public needs an explanation. We need them to know that we’re honest out there.”

    For the past month, the IHHA has been conducting generic interviews. A collection of these interviews can be found on YouTube.

    The stakes calendar at The New Meadowlands will have a different look in 2013. The focus shifts from two-year-olds stakes to events geared for older horses.   

    Gone are the Woodrow Wilson and Sweetheart stakes. The Reynolds and Simpson freshman stakes have been relocated to sister tracks Tioga and Vernon and scheduled later than usual in the season. The Final Four (Governor’s Cup, Three Diamonds, Valley Victory and Goldsmith Maid) will be resurrected and added in the Fall meet, placing the emphasis on high-pursed races for freshmen from late August through November.  

    The big news, however, is the creation of a new Free For All series, conceived by Jeff Gural. The series will include the top older events at The Meadowlands—Breeders Crown and Allerage Farm finals, along with several $50,000 Opens at The Meadowlands as legs from which points will be accumulated leading into $500,000 guaranteed finals for trotters and pacers on Nov. 30.  

    A provision in the conditions to invite the winner of the sophomore Breeders Crown or Hambletonian/Meadowlands Pace offers the hope that this year-end event may pit the top three-year-old against the best older horses.  

    The Meadowlands Maturity for four-year-old pacers and trotters will debut in May with an estimated $100,000 purse ($75,000 added.

    Another new series for 2013 is the Hudson River for four- and five-year-old New Jersey, New York or Pennsylvania sires stakes participants that have not won 4 races or $150,000 outside of state-bred events. This one will travel, with $18,000 legs planned for Pa. and N.Y. as well as at the Meadowlands before the $75,000 final at The New Meadowlands.  

    New Meadowlands President, Jeff Gural dsof. “I believe that unlike in the past, our best theree-year-olds are likely to race at four and as a result the races for older horses will once again have the kind of excitement that I grew up [experiencing] when I started going to Yonkers and Roosevelt.”  

    Also returning to the Meadowlands in 2013 are the Moni Maker and Nadia Lobell, which are scheduled for late November.  

    Live racing returns to The Meadowlands on Dec. 28 with a post time of 7:15p.m. The schedule calls for racing Thursday, Friday and Saturday through March 16, then Friday and Saturday for the balance of the year. The 2013 Championship Meet begins on Friday, May 3 and will end with the Hambletonian day card.

    Extraordinary Extras

    Get onto our mailing list and receive a free copy of a classic horseracing fiction book by clicking here.

    Check out special podcasts available for beginners and veterans of harness betting, a new series available free so you can learn more to bet more and win more at TwinSpires.  

    Podcast download link: http://tinyurl.com/bsgrx5m 

    And there are mini-essays on playing. Click here for the latest.  

    Indulge in many standardbred topics at my Hoof Beats blog titled Vast Performances. Every weekend as part of that blog we we offer Balmoral Pick-4-and-win picks at the USTA’s Strategic Wagering Program page which includes suggested win bets.
    Winners contributing to Balmoral Pick 4 tickets in the past few weeks include Fox Valley Yukon ($16.20), So Ideal ($15.60), Incrediblefilly ($10), Quality Sport ($8.40), Ice Scraper ($7.60) and Holdingallcards ($3).   

    Connect to Twitter and follow Frank and Ray Cotolo for up-to-the-minute suggestions on wagers at many harness raceways. Then, wager from your TwinSpires accounts.  


    Cartoons by Thom Pye
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